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Two Black Diamond Council members remove themselves from The Villages and Lawson Hills hearing

On the second day of hearings for the master planned developments The Villages and Lawson Hills, two Black Diamond City Council members recused themselves from the process, leaving three to decide whether to approve the permit application.

The closed record hearing for the Master Planned Development permits began Monday, June 21 at Black Diamond Elementary School.

The second day of the hearing opened with about a 15 minute executive session. When the members returned to open session, the appearance of fairness inquiries began for the Council members.

Councilwoman Leih Mulvihill recused herself after six people spoke raising objections to her participation in the quasi-judical proceeding. The six raised questions about her ability to fairly judge the two developments, indicating she was biased in favor of the YarrowBay MPDs.

The six who spoke against her participation were Sheila Hoefig, Cindy Proctor, Cindy Wheeler, Robert Taeschner, Mike Irrgang and Vicki Harp.

Initially Mulvihill defended herself and her ability to be impartial, but after all six spoke, she decided to step away from the process.

Councilwoman Kristine Hanson was the second to remove herself from the closed record hearing. Hanson stated her property abuts The Villages site on two sides, and after considering the issue, decided recusing herself was the best decision.

The decision concerning the MPD application for the two development now rests with three Council members -- Craig Goodwin, Bill Boston and William Saas,

Goodwin and Boston both faced challenges to their fairness from YarrowBay attorney Nancy Rogers from the Seattle firm, Cairncross and Hempelmann.

Rogers stated both Boston and Goodwin were members of the Lake Sawyer Community Club. According to Rogers the club donated $5,000 to a fund to challenge the development.

Goodwin said he was member, but had not participated in the organization and he was not aware the group had contributed money.

“I believe objectivity is what I am best at,” Goodwin said.

Boston said he ended his membership in 2009 because of the political actions of the group.

“I was not in agreement with the $5,000,” Boston said. “I had heard of it.”

The exchange became heated when attorney David Bricklin from the Seattle firm Bricklin and Newman attempted to provide a legal opinion countering Rogers’ statements.

Mayor Rebecca Olness ruled Bricklin was out of order. When he continued to talk, Police Chief Jamey Kiblinger approached to podium while a smattering of boos rose from of the audience. Bricklin ended his statement before the incident went any further.

Bricklin represented appellants during the final environmental impact statement and MPD adequacy hearing in March.

Both Goodwin and Boston stated they could judge the MPDs impartially and decided to stay in the process.

YarrowBay, a Kirkland-based developer, is proposing to build about 6,000 residences on the two developments with retail, industrial and office space.

The City Council scheduled hearing dates of Monday through Wednesday and July 5-8.

A closed record hearing is defined as no new evidence will be presented.

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